Living with Loss Support Group Helps Those Who Grieve Move Forward
Linda Derse and Sue Davidson
NORTH CONWAY, NH - The loss of a loved one is a life altering event. But thanks to the Living with Loss Support Group offered by Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice of Carroll County and Western Maine, those who are grieving the death of a spouse, parent or other loved one can find a way forward. The group runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. every Wednesday on a six weeks on, two weeks off schedule, taking place at the Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice offices at 1529 White Mountain Highway on Route 16 in North Conway. The next session begins on Wed., January 2, 2019. The Living with Loss Support Group is facilitated by Sue Davidson and Linda Derse who bring very different perspectives to the group. Sue is Chaplain for Hospice and Linda’s husband passed away three years ago and found hope by coming to the group in her time of need. Pastor and survivor, together they co-host the group in a way to brings people together, and all benefit from peer support. Sue begins by describing what the group is not. “It is not a class, a lecture or counseling. It is peer support. It’s a safe and confidential place where you are not the only one in that place. You don’t ever get over it. You live in it, and then you live through it. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.You can’t compare your journey.This is where support comes in.There are no stages or phases.”
Linda joined the group a few months after the loss of her husband. “At first, all I could do was cry. But after time, I heard how others were living after a loss. I clung to that hope.”
“It’s a life altering event. Everything changed. Learning to live was a big challenge. After a year and a half coming to the group, I had enough tools to know how to move forward.” Having gained so much insight about the grieving process and wanting to give back, Linda decided to volunteer her time to help others by co-hosting the group.
How frequently someone comes to the group, or how long, is entirely up to the individual. Sue added, “Some people come and go. Some people participate for a longer or shorter time. It is not a series or a class. It’s an open group. It’s OK to come once just to try it out.” There is no cost to attend and no referral is necessary. The size of the group varies but there can be 10 or more people at any given session. Linda shared, “People are at different points of their journey. It gives a different perspective on any given day.”
“Early grief is profound and sharp. A month or two down the road, everyone has moved on. That’s where a support group is helpful. It’s a chance to be validated. Having someone able to tell you ‘I know exactly how you feel’ is important. It’s real, and it’s true. Peer support is so helpful.”
Both Sue and Linda women emphasized that people can find the group helpful no matter where they are in their journey of grief. Sue said, “We’ve had folks five years out experience another loss, and it brings you back to a time of sadness. The holidays or other anniversaries or special dates, like the new year, can be difficult. Having a group for support helps move you on.”
Linda agreed with this concept, adding, “Grief is the least linear thing you know. You can spiral down. Peer support helps you through that time. It is often ‘two steps forward, one step back.’”
Sue shared, “I am often asked ‘How can you talk about loss week after week?’ But the blessing is to know people care enough about each other that they want to be together.”'
To confirm dates and times, or for more information, contact VNHCH at 603-356-7006 or 800-499-4171.
Anyone is welcome to attend and can start at any time. All groups meet from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice offices.